An easy, 5-minute Vegan Parmesan Cheese recipe made with either cashew OR almond! It's quick, dairy-free, and so tasty sprinkled on pizza, pasta, breadsticks, and beyond. (Vegan, gluten-free, oil-free.)
Let's make some savory, vegan parmesan cheese! This easy, dairy-free substitute is just 5 (or less!) simple ingredients.
I'm not the originator of this awesome idea as there are countless recipes of nut parmesan that already exist. But this is my own favorite version using the ingredients I usually have on hand.
Sprinkle on this "magic dust" to enhance your savory meals, Italian favorites (pizza, pasta!), cooked veggies, or even salads. It adds nutty, cheesy deliciousness to a wide variety of dishes.
Plus it's ready in only 5 minutes and can be easily customized to your liking. Let's get to it!
Ingredients for Vegan Parmesan
For this recipe you'll pulse together in a small food processor:
- Cashews or almonds: I enjoy it both ways and couldn't decide which to post... so you get to choose which version to make! Using protein-rich nuts as the base creates a rich, slightly buttery texture. I use organic, unsalted raw cashews for their neutral flavor, but dry roasted cashews could work too. For the almond version, you can either use whole almonds or almond flour. (Most often I use almond flour since that's what I usually have on hand.) Either blanched (with skins removed) or natural/unblanched works great. The color will be darker if using natural almond flour or almonds with skins.
- Nutritional yeast: This gives it the savory, cheesy, umami flavor. Currently I use fortified nutritional yeast flakes which includes B-12 and other B vitamins, but you can absolutely use unfortified if desired.
- Garlic powder: The garlic and onion powders help add depth of flavor and complexity to the mixture. Classic parmesan is boldly flavored with rich, tangy, sharp notes. So I try to add some of that flavor back in with these simple pantry seasonings. If you love garlic, please feel free to include even more! (I often do.)
- Onion powder: This is optional. (But for me, the garlic powder is a must!)
- Salt: I use fine grain sea salt to taste for this recipe. Real parmesan is quite salty, so it does help enhance the overall flavors here.
Whole nuts vs. nut flour: Personally, I enjoy using cashews or whole almonds slightly more than almond flour because the result is more textured. But both options are great depending on what you have on hand!
Nuts & seeds: Instead of cashews or almonds, try walnuts, Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, pistachios, pine nuts, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, or raw sunflower seeds. Or play around with a combination nuts and seeds to find your favorite!
Seasonings & herbs: Include Italian seasoning, dried basil or parsley, lemon zest, ground mustard, more garlic & onion powder, or black pepper.
Ratio: If you like yours even "cheesier" add more nutritional yeast and cut back on the nuts to fine-tune it to your liking.
Italian-inspired recipes: Sprinkle it on pizza, breadsticks, pasta, and beyond! I like it on this Easy Vegan Lasagna and Creamy Vegan Mushroom Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes.
Soup & salad: Try it on Vegan Italian Pasta Salad or Vegan Minestrone Soup.
Sandwiches & wraps: Add extra cheesiness to this Greek Salad Wrap or Crispy Tofu Wrap.
Cooked vegetables: Use it to top your sautéed, roasted, and steamed veggies.
Flavor tip: For maximum flavor, it tastes best when freshly sprinkled on dishes right before serving. (As opposed to cooking it or baking in the oven where it loses some flavor.)
Store the parmesan cheese in a sealed glass jar or other airtight container in the refrigerator. I find it keeps for several weeks (or up to a couple months) in the fridge, but use your best judgement.
Freezing note: I haven't tried storing this in the freezer, but I'm guessing it would do great in a sealed, freezer-safe container for about 2-3 months.
For more inspiration, also browse all vegan sauce & seasoning recipes.
Vegan Parmesan Cheese (2 Ways!)
- 1/2 cup raw cashews or almonds (or 1/3 cup almond flour)
- 3 Tbsp. nutritional yeast
- 1/4 tsp. garlic powder (or up to 1/2 tsp.)
- 1/4 tsp. onion powder (optional)
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- Add all ingredients to a small food processor fitted with an S-blade.
- Pulse to combine until it reaches your desired texture. If using cashews or whole almonds, leave a little texture. (In other words, don't blend it to a fine powder. Over-blending causes it to become clumpy.)
- Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. Add more salt, seasoning, nutritional yeast, etc.
Nutrition Per Serving (Estimate)
Sodium: This is omitted as I cannot provide an accurate number. I encourage you to calculate your own to provide a much more precise reading based on the exact ingredients, brands, and amounts you're using.
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